Monday, August 27, 2007

Ki Tavo Deuteronomy 26:1 - 29:8

Ki tavo, "when you come" into the Promised Land and settle there, God tells the people, they are to bring a basket containing the first fruits of their harvest to the place that God designates. There, each person is to place the basket on the altar and recite a prayer of thanksgiving which recalls the history of the people from the time that they were slaves in Egypt, up until God brought them into the land of milk and honey. Every third year, they are to set aside one-tenth of their crop for the Levite, stranger, orphan and widow and recite another prayer, declaring that this commandment had been obeyed and asking for blessing. Moses and the elders instruct the people to observe all the commandments regarding a unique ceremony they are to perform once they cross the Jordan river. They are to set up two large stones, coat them with plaster, and write the words of the Law on them. These stones will be set on Mount Ebal. In addition, a stone altar is to be erected and sacrifices offered there. Six of the tribes (those descended from Jacob's wives Leah and Rachel) are instructed to stand on Mount Gerizim and six of the tribes (those descended from Jacob's wives Bilhah and Zilpah) are instructed to stand on Mount Ebal. The Levites will stand in the valley between the two mountains and proclaim the curses that will befall those who commit certain sins and the blessings they will receive if they observe God's laws. The blessings include having many children, large flocks, abundant crops and food, and protection from enemies. If they do not obey the laws, they are told, they will suffer curses including famine, disease, defeat at the hand of enemies, plagues, and slavery. The parasha ends with Moses reminding the people of the miracles that God has done for them during their wanderings for forty years in the desert - their clothes and sandals did not wear out, and all that they ate was provided for them by God.
If you safeguard the words of this covenant and keep them, you will be successful in all you do.

Given that we have nearly completed the Torah cycle for the year, I thought it was appropriate to give Moshe his time on the stage! This polymer clay sculpture entiled "With this staff" was created by honors graduate David Master. A recipient of many awards, David has exhibited at many venues, five of which were solo shows. David’s other artistic ventures have included designing logos for organizations, building prototypes for toy manufacture, and working as an artistic director and set designer for theater productions.

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